THE landlord and landlady of a much-loved pub have told of their regret at leaving the venue after 15 years.
The Florence Arms in Florence Road, Southsea – famed for its community spirit, welcoming atmosphere and wide selection of ciders championed by the Campaign for Real Ale – closed suddenly on Thursday.
Owners Punch Taverns say it plans to reopen the pub as soon as possible.
But Jane Goldring, and partner Greg Clark, both 56, say they will no longer be the landlords.
Mr Clark told The News the couple took the decision to close the pub with ‘deep regret’ due to a drop in trade and ‘bad business decisions.’
He said: ‘The eventual closure has been brought about by changing market forces over the years – the closure of the clubs on Southsea seafront, residents parking [schemes], the smoking ban, the eventual coming of a Wetherspoons to the Southsea area and the pedestrianisation of the south end of Palmerston Road.
‘This has more than halved my trade, while static costs and energy costs have either remained the same or some have actually increased. Punch in the last few months have been very supportive.
‘In the last couple of years I have taken some bad business advice and I’m in litigation over this, and made some wrong business decisions which led to the eventuality of the closure. The decision was taken with deep regret and I would like to say a big thank you to all the customers we have had in the past 15 years.’
The couple now plan to help Punch Taverns find a new landlord for the Florence – known affectionately as ‘The Flo.’
The pub has long been known for the valuable role it plays in the community, as a venue for everything from poetry group meetings to performances and live blues, jazz and folk music.
Mr Clark added: ‘We just tried to provide an old fashioned pub in a town which has mostly got bars in it. We were a real community pub.’
A Punch Taverns spokeswoman said: ‘We can confirm The Florence Arms is currently shut but we are committed to reopening it as soon as possible.’